It’s amazing what a week of practice and a good display in a team’s first preseason game can do for a player’s chances of becoming a starter. This is the scenario in which 10-year NFL veteran Nnamdi Asomugha finds himself in after this weekend. Instead of talk about possible release, Asomugha finds himself in the driver seat of the starting cornerback battle.
As recently as 10 days ago, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio commented about how Asomugha had days were he had some good practices but others where he just looked like a shot fighter, to use a boxing term. But such comments did not faze Asomugha and like any good cornerback, he maintained total confidence in himself and went about his work.
Fast forward to now, and after having a good game against the Denver Broncos, Asomugha appears to be in the driver’s seat to be the starting cornerback on the other end of Carlos Rogers. Asomugha had a couple of pass deflections and made a big tackle on Broncos receiver Gerell Robinson where he tackled him seven yards short of a first down. These were glimpses of what made Asomugha one of the league’s top corners as recently as 2011.
Now, Asomugha’s performance in Week 1 of the preseason is by no means a sign or given that he has or will be named as one of the starting cornerbacks. It also doesn’t mean that the organization is fully convinced that they are set at the cornerback position. After all, the 49ers did sign Eric Wright, a player that they attempted to acquire via trade, and eventually signed once he was released.
But what Asomugha has done is shown the coaching staff that despite some off-days, he is progressing and feeling more comfortable within the 49ers’ defensive schemes. His ability to be able to play in the different techniques and coverages is being highlighted as he gets more and more work in.
While there are three more preseason games and the cornerback competition still far from settled, Asomugha has clearly made an early claim to win a starting spot with a fine Week 1 display. Confidence for a cornerback is of the utmost importance in their ability to perform at a high level. Asomugha appears to be on his way to getting his groove back.